Friday, March 8, 2013

New Hope for the Dead (Charles Willeford, 1985)

Simply loved Miami Blues and was a bit wary about checking out next Hoke's novel. It happens so often that I get disappointed with some artist debut's (or in this case his fictional character) follow-up expecting too much. But I'm glad to report that my fears were totally redundant in this case - New Hope for the Dead is simply brilliant and possibly even better than its predecessor. Although 'better' is probably not the word I should be using, let me instead categorize it as even more wackier.

Willeford once again focuses on his weird protagonist even more than on the crime(s) he's supposed to be investigating. Sure, our cool sergeant is busy working on a small-time junkie/dealer's OD and on a pile of 'cold' cases but - in all fairness - he spends more time trying to get laid and finding a house for himself and his two daughters. Parallel to his story we follow similarly problematic one of his partner Elita Sanchez who gets thrown out of her parent's house due to her pregnancy.  But both problems will get resolved at the same time in totally unexpected and hilarious ending. Justice will be served, in a Hoke's way at least!

It's all about our main man's colorful character. He's a living definition of stoicism but at the same time also unusually warm, sympathetic and honest person. His methods are not exactly by-the-book but still he manages to get the job done and at the same time also knows where to draw the line - no way he'll jerk off that fucking dog in order to get the house-sitting job! Hoke is simply efficient and - as miserable as his situation is - doesn't complain.

Hoke didn't like himself very much. He never had, now that he thought about it. Still, a man had to take care of his family.

So fucking cool! But nothing new really because we had known already how cool Hoke was from the first novel. What I'm really going to remember this one by is his relationship with his two teenage daughters. It's basically stripped out of all the usual trivial emotions and family crap. When they arrive (basically abandoned by their mother who had left with some baseball star) to Miami they form some kind of weird bond with Hoke (and pregnant Elita) which is based more on the survival (mostly earning money) then on affection. But that of course it's just on the surface, you can somehow feel and enjoy their affections to each other. And even if you don't, Hoke's words of wisdom are hilarious more than enough to follow his unconventional  parenthood:

"South Beach is now a slum, and it's a high-crime area, so I don't want you girls to leave the hotel by yourselves. If you had a doll, and you left it out overnight on the front porch of the hotel, it would probably be raped when you found it in the morning."

"Better make these two last. If you can't support your habit on the allowance I gave you, you'll just have to stop smoking till I can find you a job somewhere."

"I know you girls are normal, and you'll have normal urges. That's natural. But to relieve your urges, just go into the bathroom, lock the door, and masturbate. But remember this, masturbation is a private matter. Do it alone, and not to each other, and don't ever talk about it."

"AIDS you don't have to worry about. That comes from anal sex. If you avoid anal sex, you won't get AIDS, but the point is, I want you girls to avoid sex altogether."

Simply brilliant stuff, so refreshing and so unique - in style and as well as in the content. Cannot wait till my nephew is old enough to read it and looking forward to discuss this masterpiece with him.



Sergeant Hoke Moseley

Miami, 80s when cigarettes cost $1.30 a pack, it made a man think twice before lighting up a cigarette worth six and a half cents.

Body count
1 + 3 in cold cases + unrelated death of an old lady in his hotel

Mrs Loretta Hickey

None, Hoke's too busy with the house hunting to let himself be knocked off

Fuck me if I get it. Somehow it doesn't seem plausible that house they manage to get at the end would be their "new hope". But it sounds cool anyways. 

Nice design, but nothing special really. I wonder if artist had in mind Elita Sanchez or Loretta Hickey when he was drawing that good looking lady.

Cool lines:  
"I'm really sorry for her condition."
"Don't be. The world would look better if everybody drank a glassful of Wild Turkey in the morning."
"Jerry was my ex-husband's ex-wife's son by her first husband. "
"You may not believe me, but I can follow you. I run into a lot more complicated families than yours in Miami."

[The best one!]
"Jesus! You told the recording Jerry was dead? I could've done that myself. The reason I asked you to call call him in the first place was I thought you could do it gently."
"There isn't any gentle way to tell someone that a member of his family's dead. The direct method's as good as any. Besides, if Mr. Hickey was sensitive, he wouldn't have a recording answer his telephone for him."

"Christ, Bill, there must be ten thousand men named Leroy in Liberty City"
"It could've been worse. He could've said 'Tyrone'"

He showed the clerk his shield and asked if he could use a telephone. Since the pay phone rates had jumped from a dime to a quarter a few years back, Hoke, as a matter of principle, had never paid to use a phone again.

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